October 8, 2021 - 6:56 pm
The weather might have cooled in Las Vegas on Friday, but the hottest player in golf is still sizzling.
Sam Burns, a winner last week in Mississippi, fired an 8-under 63 at TPC Summerlin on Friday and stood at 13-under 129 headed to the weekend at the Shriners Children’s Open.
That put him one shot behind leaders Chad Ramey and Sungjae Im, who shot 65 on Friday and has played the first 36 holes bogey-free. Ramey, playing in the final group, birdied his last hole, No. 9, to catch Im.
Adam Schenk joined Burns at 13 under, while former Las Vegas resident Aaron Wise had the low round of the week (62) to get to 12 under. Seven players are another shot back, including Matthew Wolff and UNLV graduate Harry Hall.
Burns was a little-known player a year ago on the PGA Tour, ranked 168th in the world in January. He now sits at No. 18 after two wins and two seconds during the past five months. After his first two days in Las Vegas, he is poised to move up even higher.
Burns is taking it all in stride.
“I think there’s a lot of great people on our team,” he said. “They have done a really good job of just trying to help us improve, help us get better in certain areas, and so that’s what we’ve been looking at, just trying to improve in those certain areas and just continue to try to get better.”
It’s hard to imagine anything better than his first two rounds this week. He’s had 15 birdies and a single mistake — a double bogey when he found the water on the 17th on Thursday.
Im has been flawless in his two rounds, but he knows there is a long way to go.
“Even though I’m in the lead, there’s two days left to play,” he said. “I like to try to keep focused on my game and try to take it one shot at a time.”
Schenk followed up an opening 64 with a 65 on Friday with a scorecard that included nine 3s. He gave all the credit to his putter.
“Just made the putts I needed to make, stayed out of trouble for the most part, and that’s about it,” said Schenk, who is looking for his first career win. “I just took care of a lot of the scorable holes.”
Scoring was more difficult Friday than it was during perfect conditions during the opening round. The morning wave dealt with rain and drizzle for about two hours, while the afternoon wave had to contend with wind gusts up to 25 mph.
Play never stopped during the rain, which Wolff called annoying.
“It was on and off, and when it was on, it seemed like it lasted for awhile,” Wolff said. “It was just enough to where it was getting your stuff wet and affecting you a little bit, but not enough to really make you stop or anything.”
Wise said the rain softened things up just enough to make already good scoring conditions even better, and he expects more of the same this weekend.
“You’re going to have to go out there this weekend and make a bunch of birdies and, barring any kind of wind conditions, it’s going to be kind of a shootout,” Wise said. “So go home, get some rest, come back ready to make a bunch of birdies tomorrow.”
That shouldn’t be an issue for Burns, who won’t stress no matter what the weekend holds.
“If feel comfortable,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s just golf. It’s not anything crazy.”
Greg Robertson covers golf for the Review-Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.